I continue to be amazed by the things I notice now in my "new" world as the wife of a Veteran with PTSD, Mild TBI, and other combat-related injuries. One such instance happened this afternoon.
I was on my way back from the grocery store and noticed a young man (probably in his mid-20's) standing beside the road with a sign that read "Homeless and Hungry." My heart went out to him and I instantly wondered if he was a a Veteran who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Why, you ask, would my mind automatically wonder if he was a Veteran?? Simple. There's a high likelihood that he did.
Here are some startling statistics of which you may not be aware:
On any given day, approximately one of every three people who are homeless, is a Veteran.
About 200,000 Veterans are sleeping in shelters or on the streets each night.
Around 400,000 Heroes will find themselves without a home this year.
Of those Veterans who are homeless...
45% suffer from mental illnesses (such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
More than 67% served our country for at least three years.
And around 33% served our country in combat.
Too many of our heroes are finding themselves cold and hungry each day. They're sleeping on benches, in door ways, on sidewalks.
And, many are finding themselves homeless as a result of a system that does not properly diagnose, care for, and support our Veterans.
Without the support of family, friends, and communities, we will see this happening to more and more returning heroes in the coming years.
Patriots who have served their country at the very least deserve safe, warm homes. What can you do to make sure that happens?
If you know a Veteran, please take responsibility for helping him or her "settle" back into civilian life after they return from combat. Help him find the help he needs (the Family Of a Vet staff will be glad to tell you where!). Be there to listen, support, and offer real-world help when he needs it.
If you don't know a Veteran, or would like to help support or donate to an organization that aids our at-risk heroes, check out the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.